Beacon Council mission to Germany included Basel link
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Top Beacon Council brass who jetted to Germany to attend a pair of life sciences conferences say they saw strong interest by European companies in expanding to the US or Latin America.
Jaap Donath, vice president of research and strategic planning for the county's official economic development arm went to BIO-Europe in Munich last month and was joined by Pamela Fuertes, vice president of international economic development programs, at Medica in Düsseldorf.
Annual biotech conference BIO-Europe "attracts leading dealmakers from biotech, pharma[ceutical] and finance along with the most exciting emerging companies," according to its website.
The conference included partnering sessions, where Mr. Donath said he spent most of his time speaking with companies examining expansion possibilities in the Americas.
"Europe is climbing out of their recession the way we are and they are looking for additional markets," he said. "Some [companies] have been planning [expansion] but it's on hold for the last year or so, and now they're back looking at the US and Latin America as the next step."
They said they felt the same buzz at medical device show Medica, which attracts about 4,300 exhibits and 138,000 visitors from more than 100 countries.
"There was a conference at Medica all in German and the topic was Latin America," said Ms. Fuertes.
And though both said they couldn't discuss individual projects, they said first-time talks with some companies interested in doing business in the US provided them the chance to do some follow-ups.
"We have a couple companies we're in close discussions with," Ms. Fuertes said, "a couple have been follow-ups and that's why we went. They're there and we need to visit with them."
The trip also gave the Beacon Council the opportunity to meet with economic development counterparts abroad and boost linkages across a number of industries, including Basel area, the economic development agency for Basel, Switzerland.
The Basel agency, Mr. Donath added, has a 15-person business delegation, mostly involved in the green industries, in Miami this week of Art Basel Miami Beach to get a feel for the city and possible business opportunities here.
Weeks like this are key, Ms. Fuertes added, to attracting investments from industries like biotech and green technology because they show off a crucial facet of the community that companies in those lines of business want to see.
"They ask about… Miami and what separates Miami from other cities," she said. "Quality of life and the cultural aspect is a very important component."